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Press Release

40 Members of a Violent Gang Charged With Drug Trafficking and Firearms Violations in San Juan, Puerto Rico

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On June 8, 2023, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging 40 violent gang members from the municipality of San Juan with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, possession and distribution of controlled substances, and firearms violations, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. This investigation was led by the FBI San Juan Violent Gang Safe Streets Task Force, which is comprised of Special Agents and Task Force Officers from the FBI San Juan, the Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB), the San Juan Municipal Police, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the Puerto Rico Treasury Department (Hacienda), the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG), the Carolina Municipal Police Department, and the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections (PRDOC).

The FBI wants to thank the DEA San Juan Office, the PRPB San Juan Strike Force and the PRPB San Juan Homicide Division for their assistance in this investigation and the Guaynabo Municipal Police, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the DEA, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Marshals Service for their collaboration during the arrests. 

“Violent gangs wreak havoc on our communities, engaging in bloody street wars and selling dangerous drugs that devastate communities and families,” said U.S. Attorney Muldrow. “As today’s announcement demonstrates, the United States Justice Department continues to deploy its resources and expertise in close coordination with our law enforcement partners to target violent criminals and hold gang members accountable for their crimes.”

“Violent gangs are a real threat to public safety and this particular gang was among the most violent Puerto Rico has ever seen. The leaders of this organization acted with a complete disregard for authority and human life and caused much harm to the communities in which they operated,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office, Joseph González. “Our commitment to the people of Puerto Rico has been and will continue to be bringing these violent criminals to justice so they can have peace in their communities. As always, the contributions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, as well as those of our federal and local law enforcement partners, were instrumental in disrupting this dangerous criminal enterprise and we remain thankful for their support to the FBI mission.”

The indictment alleges that from 2015 to June 8, 2023, the drug trafficking organization distributed heroin, cocaine base (commonly known as “crack”), cocaine, marihuana, Fentanyl, Oxycodone (Percocet), and Alprazolam (Xanax) within 1,000 feet of the Manuel A. Pérez, the Alejandrino, and the Los Laureles Public Housing Projects (PHPs), and other areas nearby, as well as the San Isidro ward in the Municipality of Canóvanas, all for significant financial gain and profit.

The investigation revealed that during the conspiracy the defendants and their co-conspirators would tattoo their arms with gang symbols as evidence of their allegiance to the organization. For example: members of the organization would get a “1500” tattoo to indicate their allegiance to “Los Mil Quinientos.” A selected group of leaders and enforcers, highly trusted by the leadership of the organization, were also permitted to get tattoos with the phrase “STARS INC”, to identify their heightened status to other members of the organization.

As part of the conspiracy, the defendants used abandoned apartments in the Public Housing Projects to prepare the drugs for distribution at the drug points and procured access to many vehicles to transport money, narcotics, and firearms. For that purpose, the co‑conspirators would steal cars or buy stolen cars from others to use in furtherance of the drug trafficking activities. Some of the defendants sold drugs in the presence of minors.

The defendants acted in different roles to further the goals of the drug trafficking conspiracy, to wit: leaders/suppliers, enforcers, runners, sellers, lookouts, and facilitators. The members of the gang used force, violence, and intimidation to maintain control of the areas in which they operated. The defendants charged in the indictment are:

[1] Orlando Carmona Serrano, a.k.a. “Barber/Bar/Capi/Orlan”

[2] Miguel Ángel Santiago Laiz, a.k.a. “Miguelito/Enano”

[3] Victor Rafael Molina Santos, a.k.a. “Father/Cano/Alka/El Cano/Arka”

[4] Félix Benjamín Sánchez Valles, a.k.a. “Goldi/Gordi/Goldy/Tuco/El Manco”

[5] Lloyd David Guzmán Ortiz, a.k.a. “Pumo”

[6] Carmelo Estarella Carmona, a.k.a. “Melo”

[7] Marlon Laguna Santos, a.k.a. “Fuji”

[8] Joseph Manuel Molina Santos, a.k.a. “Bloke/Bloque”

[9] Gregory Lee Matías Gutiérrez, a.k.a. “Pinki/Pinky”

[10] Israel García Ojeda, a.k.a. “Dientes”

[11] Jamisael Jiménez Pérez, a.k.a. “Misa”

[12] Gilberto Jiménez Estrada, a.k.a. “Pichu”

[13] Michael X. Miranda Santiago, a.k.a. “Boqui/Boki”

[14] Jonathan Franqui Robles, a.k.a. “El Malcri/Gatito”

[15] Luis Ángel Crespo Rivera, a.k.a. “Luisin/Chiwi/Chegui”

[16] Luis Yerier Jorge Pabón, a.k.a. “Lento”

[17] Luis Jaffet Díaz Santana, a.k.a. “Piki”

[18] John Anthony Cruz Ramírez, a.k.a. “Cerebro”

[19] Francisco Javier Carrillo Hernaiz, a.k.a. “Polvo/Polvorón/Pelotero/Tito”

[20] Stephenn Dwight Nazario Santiago, a.k.a. “Curry”

[21] Ricardo José Rivera Ortiz, a.k.a. “Chiringa/Chiri”

[22] Juan Ramón Martínez Casanova, a.k.a. “Mota”

[23] Jesús Manuel Crespo Rivera, a.k.a. “Maco”

[24] Nelson Omar Díaz Zambrana, a.k.a. “Sopa”

[25] Luis Rafael Colón Feliciano, a.k.a. “Bichotito”

[26] Miguel Ángel Forteza Ramos, a.k.a. “Migue”

[27] Gregori Gil Colón Colón, a.k.a.  “Yoyo”

[28] Jose M. Cotto Velázquez, a.k.a. “Cándido/Negro”

[29] Malik Jordan Walrond León, a.k.a. “King”

[30] Ángel Manuel Peña Méndez, a.k.a. “Peña El Armero”

[31] Julio Cesar Sarit Valle, a.k.a. “Bebito”

[32] Juan Manuel González Ayala, a.k.a. “Goza/Gozando”

[33] Guillermo Jesús Valdez Mari, a.k.a. “Chicha”

[34] Kevin Anthony Ortiz Reyes, a.k.a. “Teta/Terembloko/Terrembloko”

[35] Nelson Martínez Montañez, a.k.a. “El Viejo/Karen”

[36] Steven Cancel Carmona, a.k.a. “Doble”

[37] Jean Carlos Rosario Brito, a.k.a. “Yomo”

[38] Johnuel Rosario Cotto, a.k.a. “Picua/Karen”

[39] Héctor Manuel Sánchez Rivera, a.k.a. “El Ñeco/Bemba/Boca”

[40] Jefferson Díaz Mota, a.k.a. “Barbie/Barbie Mota”

Twenty-nine (29) defendants are facing one charge of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Counts seven, eight and nine charge three different murders that occurred during the conspiracy.

Count seven charges defendants [1] Orlando Carmona Serrano, [5] Lloyd David Guzmán Ortiz, [7] Marlon Laguna Santos, and [9] Gregory Lee Matías Gutiérrez for the murder of W.L.A. on January 9, 2015, by shooting him with a firearm willfully, deliberately, maliciously, and with premeditation.

Count eight charges [3] Victor Rafael Molina Santos and [7] Marlon Laguna Santos for the murder of W.X.M.G. through the use of a firearm on April 22, 2015.

Count nine charges [1] Orlando Carmona Serrano, [3] Victor Rafael Molina Santos, [7] Marlon Laguna Santos, [8] Joseph Manuel Molina Santos, and [9] Gregory Lee Matías Gutiérrez for the murder of M.J.P.R. on September 7, 2015.

Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) and Chief of the Gang Section Alberto López-Rocafort, Deputy Chief of the Gang Section, AUSA Teresa Zapata-Valladares, AUSAs Damaré Theriot and Pedro Casablanca, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Romo Aledo from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted on the drug charges, the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years, and up to life in prison. If convicted of both the drug and firearms charges, the defendants face a minimum sentence of 15 years, and up to life in prison. All defendants are facing a narcotics forfeiture allegation of $38,000,000 and a property in Campo Rico Urbanization in Sabana Llana ward in San Juan, PR, which was currently being operated as “La Casa Roja” AirBnB.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Updated June 14, 2023

Violent Crime
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses